Mom with child at computer
Mom Life

6 Reasons to Be a Helicopter Parent With Technology

I admit that when it comes to technology, I am a helicopter parent. My kids have tons of freedom in so many ways, but technology is one of the things that I believe deserves a higher level of control as kids are growing up. There are many different reasons for this, and I am sure that you may disagree, but I hope you listen anyway.

As a parent, one of my primary responsibilities is to protect my children. We as parents do this all the time when we tell our kids not to climb too high or run into the streets or talk to strangers. But I’ve noticed that many parents my age seem to be completely clueless about the digital dangers lurking for our kids. Because we were raised in an era without smartphones in every hand and without all these online games, I think many people simply don’t understand. Because it wasn’t around when we were kids, we didn’t learn about the hazards and how to avoid them.

Then when it comes to parenting styles, some more authoritarian parents think that because they told their kids not to do something one time, punished their child for it, that it’s going to be fine. But I want to tell you that this is a dangerous line of thinking. Kids today are exposed to everything from cyberbullying to sexual grooming by adults pretending to be young people. Add to the mix technology addiction issues, mental health problems, and even social issues, and technology is something to be on guard about.

Here are some of the tops reasons to be a helicopter parent when it comes to technology, and some tips to create a better balance with tech in your own home.

  1. Kids Need Boundaries. Contrary to popular belief, gentle and respectful parenting comes with healthy boundaries. Parents need to set boundaries for their children because their kids are still figuring things out. Just as you wouldn’t let your child go play on a playground filled with strange adults, it’s important to protect them from the strange adults and adult content that they could interact with online.
  2. Limit Exposure to Inappropriate Content. I’m not going to mince words here, internet pornography is easier than ever before to access. And while you might think that “not my child”, if they have tablets, smartphones, etc without parental oversight, then yes, they will be exposed to internet porn at some point. I’ll write more about this topic later, but the truth is that children are exposed to pornography, violent content, and more at alarming rates. And the ages for exposure, thanks to the internet, is getting earlier and earlier. It’s your responsibility to do your best to protect them.
  3. Technology Addiction. Smartphones, apps, video games, TV and social media are designed to be addicting. They aren’t just accidentally addicting and only some people experience addiction to them. They have been created with the intention of keeping people engaged with the product as long as possible. Think about your own smartphone use. How often do you pick it up, check your notifications, go online? One study shows that the average ADULT checks their phone 352 times a day!! A DAY!!! That’s insane. And many of us adults didn’t have smartphone when we were growing up. Imagine how much more addicted young people will be if we don’t set a healthy example and also set boundaries on their behalf when it comes to technology.
  4. Guard Their Sleep. Kids are growing and need a lot of sleep. When young people have technology in their rooms either from a smartphone, a tablet, or even a TV, it can disrupt their sleep. Prolonged exposure to blue light can disrupt healthy sleep patterns making is more difficult for them to get a good night’s rest. By setting healthy technology boundaries, you can give them the gift of sleep so they can grow and improve their brain development.
  5. Increased Opportunity for Family Time. Family is the most important influence in a child’s life. Whether good or bad. By setting limits with technology, it opens up time for you to be with your child. This can be spent at a park, exploring something they find interesting, or playing board games together. Maybe even going on bike rides or finding an adventurous activity. Put down your phone and look for ways to connect.
  6. Improved Mental Health. Adults and kids who spend more time online have an increased likelihood of experiencing major mental health problems including anxiety and depression. By being a helicopter parent with your child’s online life, you can help mitigate some of these issues.

Even if you haven’t done a great job at this in the past, it’s not too late. There are many ways to guard the technology access in your home. Using passwords that the kids can’t guess is one of them. You can also use specialized routers like the Gryphon router that blocks the content and sites you want starting at the router level. Any device connected to the router will automatically be filtered.

Delay getting your teens and tweens a smartphone as long as possible. There are options like Pinwheel that offer some apps for educational purposes, but don’t have the addicting phone games and social media access. Contrary to popular belief, there are dumb phones out there that have no internet ability at all but offer text and calling if your child needs it for emergencies or chatting with friends. And while they may not be the cool option, they are definitely much safer than letting your kids have complete access to all the things.

Setup screentime limits for everyone. If you only want your kids to have an hour of screentime, then set the same limits for yourself. By setting the example for your children, they will be more likely to see the benefits of less screentime. You can use your time for a hobby, reading a book, or hanging out with your kids instead of scrolling Instagram, Facebook, TikTok or even Snapchat.

The most important thing though, is educating your kids on the dangers of the internet on a regular basis. There are tools out there that can even help you open up the conversation around pornography. Good Pictures, Bad Pictures Jr. is a great option for younger children. And older kids will benefit from the same book that was written for older kids.

This could even lead to conversations about sex and healthy relationships as you keep the lines of communication open with your children.

Your responsibility as a parent includes raising them up in the ways they should go, and it also involves protecting them from harmful things, including the ones we find online and with technology. I have witnessed the devastating effects of taking a hands-off approach and the outcomes are appalling. Be empowered to create a home that includes a healthy use of technology. You can do it.